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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto
Astrobiology: origin and the detection of life in our solar system

Zita Martins
Imperial College

The origin of life on Earth is one of the biggest scientific questions waiting to be answered. It may have had a contribution from dogenous and/or exogenous sources, with most recent theories suggesting the presence of water and a continuous supply of prebiotic organic compounds as a requirement. The first experimental analysis on the abiotic formation of the building blocks of life was performed in 1953 using laboratory apparatus that simulated the primitive Earth. However, the atmospheric conditions used in this experiment did not correspond to the ones of our primitive planet. The exogenous delivery of organic compounds is an alternative, as the Earth was heavily bombarded by comets, asteroids, meteorites and interplanetary dust particle (IDPs) 4.6 to 3.8 billion years ago. As future space missions will investigate the possibility of past and/or present extra-terrestrial life, it is important to determine how life may have originated in other places of our solar system, and how to detect possible bio-signatures. This talk will discuss how meteorites, asteroids, comets and Mars soil analogues are used to investigate the origin of life on Earth and how to detect any possible signatures of extra-terrestrial life in our solar system.

2 June 2015, 13:30

Centro de Astrofísica
Rua das Estrelas
4150-762 Porto

Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences

Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) is a new but long anticipated research infrastructure with a national dimension. It embodies a bold but feasible vision for the development of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, taking full advantage and fully realizing the potential created by the national membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). IA resulted from the merging the two most prominent research units in the field in Portugal: the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) and the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL). It currently hosts more than two-thirds of all active researchers working in Space Sciences in Portugal, and is responsible for an even greater fraction of the national productivity in international ISI journals in the area of Space Sciences. This is the scientific area with the highest relative impact factor (1.65 times above the international average) and the field with the highest average number of citations per article for Portugal.

Proceed on CAUP's website|Go to IA website